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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for Tool Watches from Our Archives

by Robin Lim on April 26, 2015

In this week’s Throwback Sundays, we give our recommendations for tool watches from our archives, we think worthy of the moniker Tool Watches. 

While there are many definition of tool watches, we feel that a tool watch must be a timepiece that is robust, legible, and hardy enough to withstand severe environmental conditions (e.g. sand, water, snow, et cetera). While we understand most watch collectors are not adventurers and dare devils, a tool watch should be suitable for these endeavours, as well as more modest excursions to the garden, the pool or for daily wear around the house.

 

Rolex GMT Master II

The Rolex GMT Master II has got a long history, and the 'Coke" featured here is one of the most popular pieces in the collection's illustrious history.

The Rolex GMT Master II has got a long history, and the “Coke” featured here is one of the most popular pieces in the collection’s illustrious history.

The Rolex GMT Master II is perhaps one of the most iconic and popular tool watches in the world of horology. It is not difficult to see why. Designed in collaboration with the airline PanAm for use by a commercial pilot travelling across multiple timezones, it also needed to withstand daily use in the sometimes harsh conditions within and without the cockpit. Although the cockpit of the commercial aircraft is a far cry from those of military aircraft, the watch still needs to be robust. The GMT Master series transcends the functional, and has become an iconic and timeless design.

An example of this timeless design, we particularly like is the watch photographed above. Affectionately known as the “Coke” due to the black and red bezel, reminiscent of the famous beverage’s colour scheme. Other variants, such as the “Pepsi” and the “Root Beer” also exist, taking cues from the corporate colours of its namesake.

Alas, the watch we featured is no longer in production. But it is still rather easily available as pre-owned in many stores and turns up very frequently in auctions. Watch out for those.

Alternatively, Rolex have produced a new version of the the GMT Master II collection. The latest iteration incorporates innovations like the ceramic bezel and the maxi dial. However, many of us still prefer the looks of the older GMT Master II. The patina of a light, even fade of the colours, and the correctness of a slightly battered old Rolex is very charming. It just looks and feels right. You will understand why, once you take a look at this short photographic feature of the GMT Master II.

 

moVas Oceaner 1

The Oceaner is actually quite good looking, either in rubber strap or bracelet. The packaging in the background is done tastefully too.

The Oceaner is actually quite good looking, either in rubber strap or bracelet. The packaging in the background is done tastefully too.

Next, we continue with the second piece, taking on some local Singaporean flavours. Not long back, we did a feature on the moVas Oceaner 1. We had a loaner for a few weeks, so we had an experience of what is it like to own the watch. We loved it. This is a “micro-brand”, super small manufacturer, but also the attention to detail and design is excellent and we feel is good value-for-money.

For a start, the moVas feels rather robust and solid. This is perhaps due to the thickness and the heft of the watch. Water resistance is 300m. The timepiece also comes with both a rubber strap and a steel bracelet. Other interesting features include the internal bezel, as well as the day indicator which is in Chinese. For a new collector looking to add a tool watch, we highly recommend taking a look at moVas. It is definitely an interesting piece to have in one’s collection indeed.

 

Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive SBDB008

The Grand Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive, one of the best watches that came out from the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Seiko Marinemaster Spring Drive SBDB008, one of the best tool watches that came out from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Whenever one thinks of Seiko, what probably comes into one’s mind would be a simple, no-frills wristwatch. But Seiko is a hidden gem within the cogniscenti of watch collecting.  The world of the Grand Seiko, and of the Credor is certainly at the same levels of high end, luxury Swiss and German watches. Their full manufacture in Shiojiri turns out a very innovative and interesting series of watches based on a patented technology Seiko calls Spring Drive.

We feel the Spring Drive deserves coverage, and a place in a collection. Learn more about the technology and its application in our earlier reviews here and here. Fascinating stuff.

However, this article is on tool watches, and we feel the application of the Spring Drive technology particularly suits the category when encased in their Marinemaster watches. These are robust, hardy dive watches. Large, strongly made. Though the particular model pictured above is made a touch more elegant with a gold plated bezel grip, the more basic models fit the bill as a tool watch par excellence.

More photographs of this timepiece here.

 

Sinn U1000

The Sinn U1000 (EXM6), tegimented submarine steel case with a beautiful matt blue electroplated dial. Watch is delivered with a matt blue silicone strap and this beautiful grey NATO strap.

The Sinn U1000 (EXM6), tegimented submarine steel case with a beautiful matt blue electroplated dial. Watch is delivered with a matt blue silicone strap and this beautiful grey NATO strap.

Last week, we featured the Sinn U1 on our Throwback Sundays article here. This week, the Sinn is featured once again, but we are looking at another model instead: the U1000.

Like the U1, the U1000 features the same tegimented submarine steel case that is capable of withstanding more scratches than a regular stainless steel case. Made especially robust, it is also water resistant up to a depth of 1000m. It also has a chronograph, and is perhaps rather more useful as a tool watch for timing intervals.

As mentioned on our article on this piece previously, Sinn is particularly well suited in the genre of tool watches. Most of their collection are within this category, and all of them well designed and magnificently made. A Sinn should definitely be on your radar for those seeking a tool watch.

Audemars Piguet Offshore Diver

A stainless steel boutique edition Audemars Piguet Offshore Diver.

A stainless steel boutique edition Audemars Piguet Offshore Diver.

An Audemars Piguet as a tool watch? Some may balk at a luxury watch being called a tool watch, but we feel that the Audemars Piguet Offshore Diver is rather suitable choice. It is solidly built on a stainless steel case, shock proofed, and water resistant to 300m.

We did a feature on two Offshore Divers previously here, and we think that it has got its own plus points. It is a good choice for a fashionable and yet functional watch.

 

IWC Aquatimer Deep Three

The IWC Aquatimer Deep Three.

The IWC Aquatimer Deep Three.

The IWC Aquatimer Deep Three is perhaps the most sophisticated dive watches among those that were listed in the article today. It features a mechanical depth gauge, in which it is capable of recording dive depths of up to 50m. Interesting feature. IWC was the first to incorporate a mechanical dive gauge in a wristwatch, with the original Deep One. Of course, a professional diver will utilize his dive computer these days for this, but a mechanical, fail safe back up is always a welcome feature in diving.

If the Deep Three doesn’t do it for you, check out the IWC Aquatimer collection here to find out other diving pieces from the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker!

 

Afterthoughts

With the exception of the GMT Master II, all the watches on this list are dive watches. This is not surprising when we consider the fact that most dive watches are very solid and robust. The very same features we treasure in a tool watch. Even the GMT Master II, designed for  commercial pilot duties features Rolex’s quintessential Oyster Case (which is capable of resisting water depths of up to 100m).

Honestly, in today’s context, most dive or tool watches will never be used during diving trips or expeditions. Ironically, most of them will be probably used for “desk diving” in a corporate environment. But having a tool watch is definitely welcoming, especially when one heads for the pool or beach, or just to forget about having to worry about having to baby a luxury watch strapped to one’s wrist. Certainly it deserves a place in every collector’s wardrobe.

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